Connect with us

How To Practice Nursing Overseas: Guide to Licensure or Registration

Practice makes pitch-perfect and a nurse from the Philippines must learn the different tunes, accents and accompaniments to be part of the operating room band in the country where she or he intends to work or migrate. US bound nurses however, seem to be singing out of tune.

AustraliaCanadaNew ZealandUnited KingdomUnited States of AmericaMigration NewsArchived
Share this article
How To Practice Nursing Overseas: Guide to Licensure or Registration
Posted on August 3, 2014 | AustraliaCanadaNew ZealandUnited KingdomUnited States of America

Among the favorite countries with permanent migration programs, the United States calls the process of meeting the occupational requirements as “licensure”.  Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK call the eligibility to practice nursing as “registration”.

Also, it is only the United States that allows the taking of the licensure exam outside the country. There are NCLEX test sites in the Philippines.  The accessibility of test sites however has not improved the passing rates of Filipino nurses.

Of the 20,755 first batch takers of the first NCLEX exam by Pearson-VUE exam on August 23, 2007, less than half passed, 10,217 or a 49.2% passing rate.  The results continued downhill.  In 2012, out of 3,313 takers, only 1,183 passed (35.7%). The next year, of 3,402 takers, only 999 passed for a woeful 29.4% passing rate.

If it’s any consolation, first time, U.S. educated NCLEX takers also performed badly. In 2012, of the 150,266 takers, 135,743 passed for a high 90.3%  The next year, the passing rate went down to 83%. Of the 155,095 takers, 128,791 passed.

The long waiting period for priority date of immigrant visa petitions in the EB3 category (where RNs are included) and the consequent drying up of US sponsors resulted in the drastic reduction of NCLEX takers from the Philippines.  In 2007, there were 20,755 applicants.  Six years later, only 3,402 took the US state board examination.

The nurse migration shifted from the US to the Middle East.  In addition to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (6,266 in 2007 and 8,513 in 2013), even the war-torn countries like Libya got increased RN deployment.  Filipino RNs bound for Canada increased from 17 to 58 I 2007 and 2010 respectively. While the UK experienced increased migration of Filipino nurses, the US saw a decline in numbers from 186 to 83 in the same period.

Working Visas

POEA/Government website - Available, approved job orders by licensed recruitment agencies on the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Website –

Private Agencies on Web

There are hundreds of websites providing jobs for registered nurses worldwide – the US, Canada, the Middle East, Africa, etc.  Be aware that employers or agencies of employers must still provide evidence with the Philippine Overseas Labor Officer with jurisdiction over the employer’s place of business that the employer sponsor is existing, legitimate, and has the financial ability to pay the required salary for the RN being sponsored.

Second, beware of job offers that get into your email box without you applying for it.  If the website address or email address is web-based (e.g.,,, etc) or does not have the “.gov” initials, it could be a scam.

Sample private websites are Jobsmart for Saudi Healthcare worker applicants- and Monster.Com -

Registration, Licensure for Work Visas

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia -

In the Philippines, the accredited testing center for Prometric exam is the Thomson Prometric located at Ateneo Professional Schools, 130 H. Dela Costa St., Salcedo Village,Makati City. The contact number is (02) 892-0383. The exam fee in the Philippines is USD90. The exam fee in Saudi Arabia is slightly lower at USD80. Online registration would only accept payment via major credit card companies such as MasterCard, Visa and America Express.

United Arab Emirates – Dubai Health Authority’s official licensure information -

Australia -  Apply for registration with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. IELTS 7.0 in each English component. If the applicant’s qualifications is considered to be lacking equivalency of an Australian RN counterpart, the overseas RN must take a bridging course, which is only taken in Australia.  A new model has been set in place on 10 February 2014 listing the eight criteria that international or overseas RNs must meet to be able to practice their occupations in Australia. The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) and AHPRA overseas the registration of international nurses by setting the standards and registration process. 

Canada – Unlike Australia, Canada has independent and separate registration bodies (called Colleges or Associations) in each province. Each provincial and territorial nursing regulatory body in Canada is responsible for ensuring that the individuals it registers as nurses meet an acceptable level of competence before beginning to practice.  However, there is a uniform national exam called the Canada Registered Nurse Examination (CRNE). The website for the complete list of registration authorities is

New Zealand.  The regulatory agency for RNs is the Nursing Council of New Zealand. International nurses are usually considered Enrolled Nurses and must complete the Competency Assessment Programme (CAP).  Securing a place to take the CAP is difficult as places are limited. The upside is that NZ and Australia have reciprocity arrangement.  Your registration with NZ as an RN will allow you to practice your profession in Australia.  The qualification prescribed by the Nursing Council for Registered Nurses from overseas was updated 1 March 2013. The web link is -

United Kingdom – Starting October 2014, overseas nurses intending to work in the UK must take a competency test (computer based and clinical assessment) administered by the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC). This will consist of two parts: a computer-based multiple-choice examination and a practical objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). The first part will be given in specified countries around the world, but the practical exam will only be given in the UK initially at a test center at the University of Northampton and expanded to more centers thereafter. The current administrative fee is £140.  No amount has been set for the new 2-part exam. The NMC website is

United States of America –While there is a uniform national examination for foreign nurses, each state in the U.S. is responsible for the licensure of nurses within that state. Some States have signed an agreement to honor the license obtained from a member state.  The Nurse Licensure Compact allows an RN to practice in several states through reciprocity. Because of variations among the states, it is recommended that you contact the State where you intend to practice or take the examination for specific licensure information is available on board of nursing websites -  The good news is that Filipino RNs can take the NCLEX exam here in the Philippines. For updated information on the NCLEX test info in the Philippines, click here -  Passing the NCLEX is just the first step. For Filipino RNs intending to apply for a work or immigrant visa they must obtain the VisaScreen Certificate issued by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nurses. Click this link -

While nursing degree lost some of its luster and a number of nursing schools were ordered closed, there were still 176,646 nursing enrollees; nursing remained the most popular in medical and allied discipline during the academic year 2011-2012. Nursing graduates during the previous academic year numbered 86,816.

This despite the advise of Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz for unemployed nurses “to seek jobs in the booming business process outsourcing industry, which has an array of non-clinical but medical-related information outsourcing opportunities such as medical transcriptionists, billers and health care secretaries.”

Those who waited in line for their EB3 immigrant visas seem to be seeing light at the end of the tunnel. The number of approved or available job orders for nurses by POEA licensed recruitment agencies is on the upswing for both the US and the UK.  In addition, those who have been waiting for their immigrant visas in 2007 are now being scheduled for interviews at the U.S. Embassy.

Got a question? Let us know - we're here to help.

Send us your migration concern

Other countries

Email and phone
Phone only
Social Media - please specify website (ex: Facebook, Google Plus, etc.) and account name

We need to make sure that you're human. What is 7 plus 3?

ICEF logoPIER logoANZCHAM logoBritish Council logo